Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite vegetables. They’re a great alternative to white potatoes, linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar as much after eating them—which is especially beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.
They’ve also been shown to be high in fibre and vitamin C. But sweet potato fans might not know that there are other health benefits associated with eating this versatile vegetable. Read on for five surprising ways that sweet potatoes can improve your health!
They may help lower your blood pressure.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower blood pressure. Studies have found that people who eat lots of foods rich in potassium tend to have a lower blood pressure than those who don’t.
What’s more, sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin B6 and magnesium, which have been linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Fibre is another reason eating sweet potatoes could help reduce your risk for high blood pressure: It helps you feel full longer and eat less food overall!
They may help you maintain a healthy vision.
A single sweet potato will give you around 2,300 IU of vitamin A, which is important for maintaining good vision. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin C, which plays an important role in eye health. In fact, a cup of cooked russet or white potatoes contains about 50% of the daily recommended intake of this nutrient.
In addition to the vitamins they provide, sweet potatoes are also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin—two antioxidants that may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among older adults.
Sweet potatoes might offer some protection from sun damage.
Sweet potatoes are low in calories and high in fibre, which means they can help you feel fuller for longer. They’re also rich in carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that gives sweet potato skins their orange colour. Carotenoids may help protect your skin from sun damage by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress after exposure to ultraviolet light.
This isn’t just useful for preventing wrinkles—it could also reduce the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate more beta-carotene (found in sweet potatoes) had fewer new melanomas over a 16-year period than those who didn’t eat as much beta-carotene–rich foods or supplements like carrots or spinach (all good sources).
We’re not saying that everyone should eat sweet potatoes every day. But if you haven’t tried adding this healthy root vegetable to your diet, we think it’s worth a shot. You might be surprised by how much better you feel after just a few weeks of eating them regularly!